TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES
Arguably Turner Classic Movies (www.tcm.com) has done more to foster appreciation of movies and the preservation of films than any other single entity. First begun by television entrepreneur/mogul Ted Turner in 1994, the Turner Classic Movies cable channel now owns the MGM studio library of movies released up to May 9, 1986. In 1996 with the merger of Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner, the cable channel gained access to the Warner Brothers library of films released after 1949 which includes films Warner acquired from other companies. Since 2010 TCM has held an annual TCM Classic Film Festival where host Robert Osborne hosts a four-day festival of events in Hollywood including screenings, celebrity appearances, and showings of movies recently restored by the Film Foundation.
The channel is non-commercial with the exception of promotional TCM advertisements (setting it apart from former rival AMC which went commercial in 2002). Screenings on the network are usually uncut and uncolorized and shown in their original theatrical aspect ratios when available. In addition to their MGM and Warner library holdings, TCM licenses films from Universal, Paramount, 20th Century Fox and other studios and rights holders. Most showings are hosted by Robert Osborne or Ben Mankiewicz with Osborne sometimes hosting “Guest Programmers” and “The Essentials” with celebrity guests like Sally Field, Alec Baldwin or Drew Barrymore. As of 2006 TCM has a weekly Saturday night TCM Underground series focusing on cult films. They also regularly show silent movies and foreign films on a weekly basis. TCM also creates original documentaries.
As of late 2014 TCM HD has become available with many titles broadcast in native HDTV in their original theatrical aspect ratios with 1.85:1 movies filling the home 16X9 screen instead of being letterboxed. If you have a DVR with your cable or satellite system you can easily “time shift” your viewing and most of the time watch a high quality HD image. If you find your DVR capacity filling up it is possible to purchase a DVD recorder and watch your selected movies at a much later date.
For a nominal fee you can subscribe to a monthly schedule which often includes articles by Robert Osborne and Martin Scorsese about upcoming films. You can also access the monthly schedule free online at the TCM website.
Through their online TCM Shop (shop.tcm.com) the company sells DVDs and Blu-rays of films they own as well as titles they license from other sources. They sell double-sided DVDs with 4 movies each in their “Classics” line. Each movie comes with all the extras that were on the single DVD disc releases. The TCM Shop periodically has special sales so subscribing to their site or simply checking online from time t0 time can yield amazing bargains. TCM also carries DVDs from other distributors like Criterion which they also periodically sell for less than retail.